Friday, November 25, 2011

The Greenest Garden in DC?

I saw an article in the Huffington Post recently, written by Nigel Sheinwald, British Ambassador to the United States. The article is entitled The Greenest Garden in Washington and lists some of the great eco-friendly features of the British Embassy.

 I love the fact that Sheinwald points out that today's gardeners need to be as concerned about the environment as they are about the good looks of their gardens.

 Below are some excerpts from the article: The single largest contributor to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is chemicals applied to lawns and farms. To do our bit to combat this trend, the British Embassy adopted an organic approach to management of the Residence garden on Massachusetts Avenue in July of 2009.

 It has not been an easy task -- certainly spraying weeds is faster than plucking them by hand. But the extra work makes for a more responsibly and sustainably run garden. 

 In order to reduce the amount of water we use, we have installed a 1,700-gallon cistern. The cistern is the central part of our grey water system, collecting rainwater that we then use in the greenhouse and elsewhere. 

We're cutting down our chemical use, too. An integrated pest management approach is helping reduce our dependence on pesticides and herbicides: we check plants for bugs before they're introduced to the greenhouse, and use horticultural oil and soap to eliminate the pests that make their way in. 

We now compost all weeds, branches, appropriate kitchen waste, leaves and grass clippings. Reducing what we take of public resources, and decreasing the chemicals we put into the air and water, stems from our goal of being a responsible member of the DC community. 

 As well as being a good neighbour, we want to be an active participant in DC's verdant gardening scene. Our new rain garden slows down water flow across the property, so more water soaks into the soil. This reduces runoff onto Massachusetts Avenue, and helps us keep Winston Churchill's feet dry where he stands at the edge of the property.

 District of Columbia ordinances require properties to have some form of runoff control, and rain gardens have sprung up as a low-cost, aesthetically pleasing option. In many ways, gardening has much in common with diplomacy. 

The seeds you plant take careful care and cultivation to turn out well. Nothing is the same from year to year. You learn from what works -- and what doesn't -- to know better what to do the next time. And the end goal of your work is a productive area where all things have a chance to grow and thrive. 

Yes, it's a great article, but what do you think? Is the British Embassy really the GREENEST garden in DC?

1 comment:

  1. I would doubt that they are the GREENEST; but since I was born a Brit and probably always will be (even though I'm a US citizen) -- I say that whateve can be done to reduce run-off is a bloody good job !!
    By the way -- I have eight rain barrels around my small property and I have to point them out to garden club members and other visitors to my garden because they disappear into the background (each barrels holds 55 gallons).


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